An afternoon in Tuscany

Yesterday I was delighted to co-host a bridal shower for my college roommate, Megan. Her bridesmaids Jenni, Katie and I put together an afternoon full of fun to celebrate Megan's upcoming marriage to Bob.

Because Megan and Bob plan to honeymoon in Italy, we decided it would be fun to do a little nod to Italy without playing up the boring Italian stereotypes. The colors of Tuscany helped to keep the event beautiful.

VENUE

Columbus is full of incredible venues, but it can be hard to find something affordable for a large group.  Brothers Drake Meadery is an urban producer of wines made from honey sourced from Ohio to create a delicious modern take on an ancient tradition. The friendly folks at Brothers Drake were amazing and easy to work with; super accommodating for our event. Check them out for a Columbus party or for a fun night out.

MENU

I'm a huge fan of local market, Weiland's. I use their catering services all of the time because it's fresh, affordable and of course, supports a locally owned and operated business. Brunch being the best meal of the day (duh!) we chose a menu of incredible brunch favorites and Weiland's set it all up for us; we even saved a little money by returning the equipment ourselves. I made matching food labels with my signature handlettering to tie it all together.

DECOR

To keep with our Italian theme chic, we steered away from white and red checkered table cloths and leaning tower of Pisa figurines. You know your girl loves a theme, so coming up with the decor is always my favorite part.

Paper Goods

We found some beautiful vintage mediterranean paper goods on Etsy from Paper & Pastiche including place cards, thank you cards, bunting banners, and welcome poster. We also found our invitations on Etsy from Simply Social Designs.

Floral

Instead of traditional fresh cut flowers in vases, we opted for planted gerber daisies from Baker's Acres and basil from Meijer in tomato cans. We'll be eating tomatoes for until infinity, but the tomato cans really brought the Italian theme to life and the cans made great take aways for guests. Cans were swooped up from local grocery stores, and the big Nina cans were found at Costco for just $3! Katie did a great job with these!

Table Top Decorations

Another quick and easy decoration that brought a little bit of Italy to the space were vases full of pasta or breadstick, tied with raffia and burlap. Vases from the Dollar Tree are great to keep in stock at home and reuse again and again. We also bought a big bag of lemons from Costco and featured it with some greenery from Kroger to pull in the Tuscany feel!

Vintage Map

I bought a Cavallini map of Italy from On Paper, and lettered it for Bob and Megan. They are big travelers so this was a hit with them. It was easily displayed on my IKEA chalkboard.

Signage

I used the same design from Paper and Pastiche and bright blue Sharpie paint pens on 4x6 paper, coupled with some whimsical lettering to make signage. The frames are cheap white stanchions from IKEA.

ACTIVITIES

Megan is not one for group games, but we found a few ways to incorporate ways to engage with the event for guests.

Envelopes

To make thank you note writing a breeze, envelopes from Amazon were available for each guest to fill out with her address. All Megan has to do is write the note, seal it up and send it on its way!

Stories

To entertain guests between present unwrappings, and to take all of the eyes off of the bride while she opened we also had a station to write down a favorite memory of Megan. I read the anecdotes aloud while she unwrapped and she would guess the author. This also helped the guests from different chapters of Megan's life to get to know one another throughout.

Envelopes

Just for fun, we also filled a jar full of Hershey's Kisses and guests could guess how many there were for a chance to win all the Kisses. There were 248...and there would have been 250 if I hadn't eaten two. :) I was a little short on Kisses for the size of the jar, so I put tin foil in the bottom to make it look more full! The sign and guess slip is also from Paper and Pastiche.

SPECIAL TOUCHES

Bride's Cup

We found a yellow mason jar jug with a lemon lid at Michael's, perfect for our theme! I lettered it with Megan's name so she had a spillproof mimosa container with her white outfit!

Gift Book

The same Michael's collection had a lemon notebook that was perfect for recording the gifts and gift givers for Megan and a little lettering made it even more special.

Favors

As a little takeaway, we bagged up sparkling limoncello hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works and sealed them with yellow washi tape.

Performance

One of our best friend's from college, Meghan Watkins, is a professional singer, and she kicked off the present opening portion with an a capella solo about love. It was so touching.

The event was a beautiful tribute to Megan and Bob's love! And I think the decor turned out beautifully! What would you add to an Italian themed shower???

xo. NatKP

Desert Blooms Bridal Shower

In January, I was thrilled to host a bridal shower celebration for my sister Nicole. As a theme party specialist (self-proclaimed), I was searching for the perfect theme that would fit my sister's style, be chic and still relaxed without feeling like a Party City nightmare. No shade - I've spent my share of time in the aisles of PC!

Because we were gearing up for a bachelorette party in Palm Springs, I thought it would be fun to play off of the desert theme, without playing on Southwest stereotypes. The idea of succulents, cacti and soft colors appealed to me so I landed on a Desert Blooms theme!

INVITATIONS

While I love designing invitations, sometimes I love browsing through the work of other artists to land on something fun! I found this pretty piece from Kate & Jane Designs. I mailed them in pretty cacti-colored envelopes, with white lettering and paired them with vintage fern postage stamps, sealing them with a little cacti washi tape!

VENUE & MENU

Living in Columbus, Ohio there are innumerable locally owned and operated businesses that would be perfect for a shower, and one in my neighborhood I absolutely adore is Bleu & Fig. Chef Brooke Kinsey is a genius with food and the master of all things brunch. Nicole and I are both crazy about Bloody Marys, so a bridal brunch was the order of the day! Brooke also owns an incredible space in Clintonville for events that I have fallen in love with. I love working with Brooke; she's a creative herself and very invested in the success of other women; perfect fit for my sis' and my values! And, her sister works there too. Gotta love it.

Brooke prepared an incredible menu: baked eggs with roasted peppers, Gournay cheese, Sungold tomatoes and caramelized onions, brown sugar candied bacon, fresh fruit and maple creme brulee french toast. It was delectable! A coffee and tea bar was overshadowed by the bartender who served up a Bloody Mary bar and mimosas!

We selected a seating arrangement that allowed our large party of 24 to all sit at one table, an homage to our Italian family style roots. It felt so much more intimate to be able to sit together, rather than at separate tables. 

DECOR

One of my favorite parts of planning an event is coming up with beautiful decorations that really amplify the spirit and atmosphere of the celebration. I recruited our mom to help me with the decorations on this one because I had some time-consuming projects up my sleeve this time around! I also suckered a couple of Nicole's bridesmaids into painting with me!

Garland

Nicole's bridesmaids Jackie and Sarrah were a big help on this one! We cut out chevron shapes with a punch and then used the colors of the shower to paint the pieces to match the event. Using double sided tape, we attached two pieces together on a piece of clear fishing wire about 2 inches apart. The garland dressed up the bar and a few other surfaces at the event!

Table Runners

My mom used the same paint colors from the garland to hand paint burlap for table runners. It made for a beautiful statement on the tables.

Center Pieces

We used vases from the Dollar Tree with a combination of sand and blue rocks as planters for succulents. These were complimented by mercury glass containers and candles, and metal vases full of baby's breath from Bleu & Fig.

Place Cards

I hand stamped place cards with pink and green cacti and handlettered in a fun, whimsical style, each guest's name.

Signage

I used cacti washi tape and colorful cacti stickers on 4x6 paper, coupled with some whimsical lettering to make signage. The frames are cheap white stanchions from IKEA.

Dream Catchers

Having hosted a number of showers, I know that the most photo taking happens, for better of for worse, during present opening! I wanted there to be a backdrop of prettiness behind Nicole for gift opening. My mom, the trooper, took the vision that I had and made it even more incredible. She used embroidery hoops, ribbon and a lace pattern to make a dozen pretty dream catcher-like pieces. She made one large one out of burlap so that I could letter it with a pretty phrase as the center piece. We used a pipe and drape backdrop that I typically hang my Natterdoodle banner on at shows to keep the whole thing together. This also doubled as a beautiful backdrop for photos of Nicole and friends.

Floral Arrangement

Our cousin Jenn couldn't make it to the shower and sent along a stunning arrangement from my favorite florist Rose Bredl that incorporated succulents and vibrant desert colors. Jenn has amazing taste as an event planner, so it was no surprise what she cooked up was gorgeous. I placed some fun arrows around it to show it off and it was front and center on the coffee table while Nicole opened gifts.

ACTIVITIES

 

You may remember from the Palm Springs Before the Ring post, that my sister is not a big fan of organized, cheesy games. So instead of a litany of standard games, I arranged a few stations where friends could engage.

Mobile

The first, was a large mobile that I made with the help of Sarrah and Jackie out of a large embroidery hoop, string, gold pony beads, white craft feathers and gold paint. Little tags and pens were available for guests to make wishes for the couple and hang them from the mobile.

Envelopes

To make thank you note writing a breeze, envelopes from the thank you notes were available for each guest to fill out with her address. All Nicole had to do was write the note, seal it up and send it on its way!

Stories

To entertain guests between present unwrappings, and to take all of the eyes off of the bride while she opened I also had a station to write down a favorite memory of Nicole. I read the anecdotes aloud while she unwrapped and she would guess the author. This also helped the guests from different chapters of Nicole's life to get to know one another throughout.

FAVORS

The biggest replacement for a game and a favor combined was a mini-workshop from Planthropy. Each girl learned to plant and care for succulents, while assembling her own mini garden. The results were beautiful and it was fun to work on something together that was easy, educational and had a stunning end result! As a small business, I love supporting other local businesses and Jessie from Planthropy is a great friend and creative to support!

GIFT

 

My sister and I are close friends and I went along on her registry trips! Given that I'm familiar with all of the pretty and functional things that she chose, I wanted to go off on my own for a creative and thoughtful gift. My mom and I commissioned a watercolor artist in Columbus, Malia Carter of Deep Fried Freckles, to paint her dog Duck. Malia incorporated a gallery wall behind Duck featuring significant items for Nicole and her fiancee Frank including their initials, a map of Ohio with a heart over Cincinnati, helmets from the Browns and Bengals and a painting of Santorini, one of their favorite vacations. The result is stunning and Nicole was so surprised. She has already hung up the painting, fittingly, above the spot where Duck's bed resides!

After the event, we'd had so much fun that everyone came over to my house for drinks and snacks and the party continued into the night! Celebrating is something I really value, but getting to do something that honors my sister and Frank was truly special! What else would you have added to our Desert Blooms Shower?

xo. Natalie

 

Palm Springs Before the Ring

I am lucky to be asked frequently to contribute custom pieces for weddings, showers and bachelorette events. You know your girl LOVES a theme, so I am particularly excited when I get to make something unique to the event's colors and spirit. When my sister Nicole and her fiance Frank announced their engagement, I was of course completely thrilled about their lifetime full of love and yaddi yadda...but I could not wait to help make her big day and the celebrations leading up to it special!

While she gave me free reign on the bridal shower, we worked together on planning her bachelorette party weekend. We're both big planners and travelers, so it was an easy collaboration! She stayed out of the decor and surprises, but helped to make the trip easy, comfortable and fun for her whole crew!

PALM SPRINGS

We decided on Palm Springs for a few reasons. Firstly, we wanted somewhere warm in March and with the weather the last few years it's hard to guarantee somewhere will be warm in early Spring! Secondly, as centrality wasn't an option because her amazing group of friends would be flying from all over the country (Seattle, New York, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, etc.), we could really land just about anywhere! Her vision for the perfect weekend wasn't about bar hopping, so much as fun and sun with her crew, so we wanted to rent a house big enough to fit our group of 17 and for the most part, camp out there! She and I also love to go somewhere we've never been before, and Palm Springs fit that bill, too.

THEME

 

While there is no evidence that any flamingos live in Palm Springs and I'm quite sure you can only get pineapples at the grocery store, I couldn't resist making this trend the subject of our theme! I focused on pink, yellow and green as our colors of choice and incorporated fun phrases like "Let's Flamingle" and "Party Like a Pineapple" in the printable paper decor from Etsy. I found some kitschy paper pineapples and palm leaves on Amazon and topped them off with pops of color throughout the house in the form of very cheap paper poms. I really wanted a photo backdrop, but they were pricey. A stroke of genius and I bought this perfect pineapple shower curtain which was exactly what I was looking for! Pool floaties were a must and while the giant flamingo and pineapple were obvious, we topped it off with a beer pong float and unicorn for good measure. And because we were on vacation, we couldn't be bothered to hold our own drinks, so these mini 'mingos did that for us!

Snapchat is my sis' jam and she really wanted to have a filter for the party. As a surprise, I had a different one made for every day of the weekend! I found one I loved on Etsy from SnappyDays and made two using Canva. They were a big hit and fit the theme perfectly!

ITINERARY

 

Special thanks to Happy Party Studio for making the schedule look extra cute!

Thursday

To make things as easy breezy as possible, we scheduled rental cars to get the girls from LAX to Palm Springs in different shifts. Even though I wanted to ride with my sis, I insisted she go in another car to do the Costco run so the girls in mine could get to the house early to setup some surprises! This was an amazing plan until our Airbnb situation went downhill...more on that in a minute.

Nicole wanted a relaxed weekend, with an emphasis on spending quality pool and cocktail time with her friends so we focused most of our activities at the house. Thursday the gals were coming in at all different times, so we made dinner (& drinks, duh) at home and enjoyed the warm weather!

We had booked an incredible house that would sleep 17 under a mile from downtown Palm Springs through Airbnb. When we were just 20 minutes outside of PS, our host called to let us know he had to cancel our reservation due to a "gas leak." It's a busy time in Palm Springs and finding a house that comfortably fits a large group is no easy task, so there was a lot of scrambling on our end to make things work.

To kick things off in Palm Springs, (and while we waited to figure out how to fix our problem) we enjoyed brunch at Jake's and craft brews and micheladas at Draughtsman. After a lot of calling and a minor amount of panicking, I was able to locate another gorgeous house that could accommodate our needs! The only trick was, it was about 40 minutes away in La Quinta. At a certain point, we had to embrace the chaos and go with the new home! Ultimately, it ended up being incredible as the views of the mountains were stunning and the Old Town of La Quinta was darling. Check out the house here - and shout out to Bunnie of Vacation Palm Springs for helping us in a pinch!

Friday

Friday we kicked off the day with a little breakfast and in-home yoga from Tristan of Gatto Yoga. It was an incredible way to start the morning and Tristan was lots of fun. Highly recommend!

While we had hoped to do the Aerial Tram in Joshua Tree National Park in the afternoon, we had to skip it. We had dinner reservations in Palm Springs that night and decided not to spend the majority of our day back and forth in the car. Our day instead was spent poolside!

We headed into Palm Springs for dinner and drinks. We started off at Truss & Twine for some artisanal cocktails (try the Southside and the Three Dots & a Dash) and then did dinner at Trio. We had a large group, so opted for a prix fixe menu with a starter, entree and dessert. They were great to work with ahead of time and the prix fixe offered a variety of options for any appetite. After dinner, we headed out to Hunters followed by Chill for dancing and mischief, followed by a longggggg Lyft ride home!

Saturday

Saturday we treated ourselves to brunch catered by Todd Konkol Food. Todd brought us an incredible spread with insanely yummy vegetarian quiche (everyone asked for the recipe), turkey sausage, breakfast sweet potatoes, blueberry apple coffee cake, almond danish, fresh fruit and bagels. It was decadent and made with clean ingredients! Todd brought everything ready to serve, so after a few minutes of setup we were happily munching away.

Later that evening, Todd came back to make us a Mexican fiesta and he brought along a secret ingredient, a bartender to make us fresh margaritas! The apps alone were enough for a meal - fresh quac, pico, quesadillas and shrimp ceviche, and then fresh tacos and cauliflower rice and beans. The bride's favorite desserts include peanut butter and chocolate, and Todd did not disappoint! He created a chocolate fudge cake with peanut butter frosting, along with nutter butter cookies with peanut butter filling, dipped in bittersweet chocolate! It was so relaxing to have someone else do the cooking and cleanup and not have to lift a finger or leave the house! 

Sunday

The majority of our group had earlier flights, but for those of us with red-eyes, we asked for a late checkout and spent the day finishing off the food from Saturday at the pool! On our way back to Los Angeles, we stopped to see the world's biggest dinosaurs in Cabazon! It was a nice, quick, campy break from the California traffic. We ended the evening in Santa Monica at Del Friscos for dinner before rushing to the airport.

ACTIVITIES

Games

I worked with a couple of Nicole's best friends to come up with some fun activities for the weekend. Nicole is not really into games that focus all the attention on her, so we knew they had to involve everyone else's special connections, too.

The first thing we did was collect 3+ inside jokes or funny memories via a Google form with Nicole from everyone attending, along with 2+ toasts to read aloud and celebrate Nicole & Frank. Nicole's friend Jackie printed all of the answers individually and pasted them onto cards. While in the pool, we read each toast or joke individually and Nicole had to guess who it came from. If she got it right, they had to drink - but if she got it wrong, she had to! It was fun and also helped to provide context and backstories between different groups of friends attending.

Undies

We also had every girl bring a different pair of undies and strung them up on a clothesline. The undies were unwrapped and Nicole had to try to guess who brought each pair. Some were basic (think hanky pankies) and some were silly (like cats and Beauty and the Beast).

Coloring page

Lately, I've been designing a lot of coloring pages for bridal and baby showers. At the last minute, I decided to whip up a little coloring page for the bachelorette party that fit the theme for a relaxing, poolside activity. I was not sure how this would go over, but Saturday night I walked outside to find a dozen girls coloring away! It was a fun add-on and I'd highly recommend it!

Video

Nicole's favorite was a video I recorded of Frank answering about 15 different questions about he and Nicole. Some of the answers were sweet, others were hilarious. It was a really fun way to incorporate the groom into the event and made for some ridiculous bloopers as well. Nicole had to guess all of Frank's answers and I'd say she got at least 75% percent of them right! While I'd love to share the video (It's a hoot), some things are better kept a secret! :)

GIFT BAGS

If you've been following my insta story lately, you've undoubtedly seen the killer gift bags my sister and I put together for all of the girls attending the party. I must say, these were pretty boss and I think a huge hit with the girls! Here's a breakdown of the contents.

Tees/Tanks

When my friends at Little Chicago Clothing Co. asked me to design some pieces for their Entourage line a month after my sister got engaged, I was like EUREKA. My sister and I were born and raised in Ohio and even though she lives in Chicago, she'll be getting married in Cincinnati. Most of her best friends she met in Cleveland where we grew up, Cincinnati where she worked for years and Athens where we went to college. These shirts are a perfect fit! I let girls choose their preference of tank or tee for comfort, and I selected a rainbow of bright, tropical colors to fit our theme.

Totes

I designed a special tote bag for the weekend that is fun and cheeky and doesn't scream "WEDDING" so it can be used as a beach/shopping bag long-term. My sister and I both wanted everything in the bags to be reusable after the weekend; no specialized items that said "Nicole's Bachelorette Party 2017" because it often feels tacky to use them after the fact. This tote bag hits that mark! And of course I asked my pals at Little Chicago to print these for me!

Tumblers

With 17 girls staying hydrated over the weekend, we didn't want to waste an inordinate number of plastic cups. We had tumblers made with each girl's name, so they wouldn't be mixed up (even though ironically almost every girl on the trip shared their name with someone else on the trip!). Rewined Designed helped me to turn my handwriting into vinyl stickers so the cups could be dishwasher safe; she also included a pineapple or flamingo on each one to match our theme and gave the bride a special bridal version, too!

Custom name straws

I can't for the life of me remember where I saw this idea, but when I sent it to my sister we knew we just had to have them! Each girl had an incredible straw made by Krazy Straws with their name in pink, green or yellow as a keepsake. It also made for some incredible photos!

Hair ties

I HATE getting my hair wet in the pool, so these ties from Azurea Studio was a must-have for me. And with adorable pineapples and flamingos and some fun wordplay packaging, what could be better?

A BACHELORETTE TO REMEMBER

We had an absolute blast. I know that the weekend would have been incredible just having all 17 of these women in the same place, but the special touches, theme, house, delicious food, inordinate number of cocktails and handmade creations made it all the more magical!

What's the next big event you're planning? Maybe you can include some of these clever ideas into your event!

xo. Natalie

Will you be my Galentine?

I have been thinking so much about my gal pals lately. Maybe it's because I'm longing for the days of Leslie Knope (R.I.P. Parks & Rec, come back to us!). After all, she did invent the coolest holiday ever. 

Anyway, I know you're here for the freebies - and I've got a couple fun ones for you! Both are printable on your home printer; you'll just need 8.5x11 paper and some scissors to make this happen. If you have cardstock, you might want to break that out for the Galentine cards!

First, a coloring page. This floral delight should keep you occupied for quite some time. I like to use tri-liner fine markers to color in all the little white spaces. If you're in the Columbus area, join me on Monday at Ohio Creative Collective's Galentine's Day Coloring Party! I'll be there with some other artists and pals coloring my little heart out and eating patacon, my favorite at Arepazo! Make sure to tag me (@natterdoodles on Instagram) in your coloring creations for your chance to win a free art print!

DOWNLOAD COLORING PAGE HERE

DOWNLOAD GALENTINE'S COLORING PAGE

Next, celebrate the power of the uterus - because what in the world is more cuterus? Also inspired, by your girl Leslie!  This printable Valentine is formatted for you to print two 5x7 one-side cards per sheet. I suggest a nice cardstock if you've got some lying around. Cut along the light gray box to get the 5x7 card and mail as a postcard, in an A7 envelope or slide under the door of your secret Galentine! Of course I want to see all your sweet and snarky messages, so be sure to tag @natterdoodles on Instagram!

DOWNLOAD GALENTINES NOW

DOWNLOAD YOUR GALENTINES!

I really do love any holiday where celebrating love of all kinds is the order of the day! Remember to #sprinklepositivityconfetti this Galentine's Day, Valentine's Day and every day in between!

xo. Natalie